I saw something on the teevee last night that really struck a chord. And so I'm going to post about it because I like to pretend that enough people read my blog to change the world. Ahem.
This isn't going to be pretty. Adult themes and all that. So read on at your own risk.
What I saw was a news story about the Pope's visit to the US, and the reactions of Catholics in the wake of the Priest Sexual Abuse Scandal. They interviewed the parents of a now grown woman who was repeatedly raped as a child by the family priest. The father was sobbing as he talked about this priest raping his five year old daughter. I don't even have to tell you what that does to me inside. Suffice to say I sobbed with him.
Then the father said that he had tremendous guilt, because he felt like the reason his daughter never told them what was happening was because of something he said to her once. He told her that if anyone ever hurt her, he would kill them. Kids are so literal. And so to protect her father from that monsterous response, and the fallout from what she thought was going to be an actual murder, she kept her secret for decades.
I felt sort of like I had been struck by an arrow. Because I remember distinctly sitting on the bed in my grandmother's bedroom when she told me the same thing. I was probably 10 years old. Old enough to know that there would never be bloodshed at the hands of my then 70 year old grandma. But still. It was obvious to 10 year old me that whatever evil lay in wait for me, it couldn't hurt me as much as it would hurt her. And as I have a lifelong habit of protecting the women in my life to any extent possilbe, I made a concious decision to keep any and all painful news from my grandmother. Forever. At any price. (I was so drama at 10 years old...)
I have never had anything as horrific as what happened to that young girl happen to me. Not even close. So I can't really say that I would have kept my secrets like she did. But I know that conversation affected me profoundly. So last night I thought a lot about how to convey the same meaning - that I am passionately driven to protect my children - without scaring the crap out of them.
Sweet Pea and I already talk about things that I hope and pray will protect her from predatory adults as she grows up. She knows that she, and she alone, is the boss of her body. We talk about our bodies and use all the right words. We try to keep nakedness and sexuality (age appropriate of course) from being taboo in our house. She is never forced to give a kiss or a hug if she doesn't want to. We talk about the difference between secrets and surprises. And how no one should EVER ask you to keep a secret from your Mommy and Daddy.
And now we're going to add to that list a conversation about how it's Mom and Dad's job to protect her and keep her safe. And how we LOVE our job. And the part about how we would kill any $#@*ing bastard who tried to lay a hand on her will have to remain between me and Mr. G.
Just thought I'd share.